Discovery Kyrgyzstan
 
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008
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Rafting

RaftingThe abundance of mountain rivers and sunny days has been attracting fans of white water to Kyrgyzstan since the second half of the last century. Due to the unique natural environment of the republic, there are enough rivers to provide routes of all different categories of complexity suitable for both experienced sportsmen and beginners.

There is nothing more exciting than a rafting tour along mountain rivers. In Kyrgyzstan, the best rivers for this kind of travel are the Chu, Chon-Kemin, Kekemeren, Chatkal, and Naryn. Everything that is required to make your holiday unforgettable is here...rivers quietly flowing through the beautiful landscape, and rapids that will take your breath away and excite even the most hardened extreme sports fans. The rafting season on these rivers varies from April to October. The level of complexity on the six-point scale depends on the season, since the thawing of glaciers ensures a high level of water in the rivers; and in hot summer months the waterline can fluctuate daily. Therefore, for some rivers, the most favorable time for water tours is the end of August, and September.

The river Chu is the most suitable for commercial rafting. Parts of it lie at over 1,500m above sea level. The climate and temperature of the water (15°-18°C) from June till mid-September means rafting can be done even without diving suits, and the complexity of obstacles does not exceed five points. The section of the river passing through the Bohom gorge is the national 'white water arena1 and a unique training site for the whole Central Asian region. Here in ancient times there lay one of the northern routes of the Great Silk Road. Due to its location near the capital of the republic and communications development over the years, the popularity of rafting in the Bohom gorge is steadily growing both among the people of the country and foreign guests.

Rafting in the republic started to develop a quarter of century ago. Its future fate rested upon the enthusiasm of some junior rowing league coaches. In 1992 rafting adopted a commercial direction by receiving the status of strategic objective for the development of tourism in Kyrgyzstan.

At the times of the Soviet Union the most popular were many-day tours on the Chatkal, Kekemeren, Naryn rivers. The Chatkal river was among the five most popular rivers in the USSR. Usually, during August and September, there used to be 60 or 70 tourist groups here. For the last several years, one-or two-day tours on the rivers Chu and Chon-Kemin have gained the same popularity.

In spite of the half-century history of exploring the Kyrgyz rivers by the white water lovers, lots of rivers still remain unaware of rafts and kayaks. There are lots of opportunities for pioneers to travel down the rivers, starting from their source. The most impressive is the rafting tour from Inylchek, the second biggest glacier in the world (59km), through the almost impassable Sarydzhaz canyon, 30km long. Or from the source of the Naryn which is the upper course of the second longest river in Central Asia the Syr-Darya. The most popular among tourists, through their mild climatic conditions, are the rivers floating not higher than 1500m above sea level. Professionals positively compare some sections on the Chatkal, Kekemeren, Naryn rivers to the world famous Futalefu in Chile and the Colorado in the USA.

The amazing nature and the marvelous rivers of Kyrgyzstan are waiting to be conquered!

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #7

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